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Centrifuges are commonly found in laboratories. They range is size and price depending on your samples, centrifugation, and required capacity. Centrifuges rotate samples around an axis, causing denser objects to be displaced outward. This process is also known as the sedimentation principle. Common uses for the laboratory centrifuge include tissue cultures, cell harvesting, and protein work.
Know the type of centrifuge you need
Centrifuges are classified according to different standards. As for size, centrifuges can be bench-top
or very large. Laboratory centrifuges are used in biology, biochemistry, research, and chemistry. Different types of laboratory centrifuges include:
Micro-centrifuges: Regarded as an essential part of every lab. Compact units provide RCFs up to 21,000 x g. Common applications include DNA, RNA, and spin up to 2-mL volumes.
Clinical: Designed for use in hospital and clinics. They need a low-throughput unit to spin blood collections. Most clinical centrifuges spin at RCFS at or below 3000 x g.
Multipurpose bench-top: Multipurpose bench-top centrifuges are for a broad range of tube sizes. They also have high variability. They offer a wide range of rotor types, speeds, and volumes.
Stand alone centrifuges – ultracentrifuges: Stand alone centrifuges are for high spinning. They are capable of spinning up to 1,000,000 x g. Applications for these powerful centrifuge types include virus particle separation, or DNA, protein, and RNA fractionation.
Other classifications of centrifuges relate to rotor design. Common types include:
Fixed-angle: fixed angle centrifuges are at a fixed angle compared to the axis to have a constant angle.
Swinging head (or bucket): Opposite of fixed-angle. Swinging head centrifuges have a hinge where containers attach to the central rotor.
Continuous tubular centrifuges: Used for applications which involve high volume.
Other centrifuges include cell washers (washes cellular debris), gas (isotope separation), hematocrit (red blood cell percentage testing), and analytical.
Know the speed settings required for your sample
The help of a nomograph can determine your speed settings. Nomographs chart centrifugal speeds against RCF and G-Force.
Safety considerations and best centrifuge practices
There are many safety considerations for centrifuge usage. Always balance the load in centrifuges. This is especially true when the rotor is in high speed. Inspect the rotor for proper lockage. If the rotor inside the centrifuge is lost, it can result in an explosion. Never touch centrifuge rotors while moving as they can cause serious injuries.
Most centrifuges have safety mechanisms in place, but always check with your KWIPPED supplier beforehand. Most modern centrifuges have the follow safety precautions in place such as imbalance detection.
Good centrifuge practices include the following:
- Running a full compliment of buckets
- Always clean and lubricate rotor pins according to centrifuge use
- Clean aluminum buckets in a neutral ph cleaner – no strong acids
- Keep buckets clean and dry at all times to prevent corrosion
- Check that rotors are tight before use
- Do not add extra accessories on to the centrifuge
Common manufacturers of centrifuges include: Eppendorf, ThermoScientific, VWR, Beckman Coulter, BD, Electro Mag, Auxilab, Shor-Line